More prosperity with a purpose
With 70 per cent of the 2017 Budget having been implemented, tomorrow the country will look forward to the 2018 Budget with a full account of how the Labour Government will proceed to share the nation’s prosperity among all Maltese and Gozitan families.
As Finance Minister Edward Scicluna noted, the high performance during the current year was registered in a scenario in which Malta hosted the EU presidency and a general election was held in the past 12 months. The presidency was an unprecedented success and, over and above that, we were operating in an election year. Despite this, we achieved the same implementation rate as we had in the previous four years.
Some 265 measures from the 2017 budget have been implemented so far this year, making a total of 1,000 introduced over Labour’s past legislature. Furthermore, around 100 pending measures from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 budgets were also implemented last year. This is certainly a good exercise in accountability for everyone to evaluate, giving a detailed factsheet to anyone who has doubts as to where all the many millions in surplus have been directed.
For future generations
Gone are the times when our families used to fear the budget speech and learn of harsher taxation and further financial burdens. Let us never forget the arrogant attitudes of not so distant administrations, when a Finance Minister recklessly laughingly allocated further debt to our children while he and his colleagues were keen on ‘burning all that the country had’! It is so different today after only four years of a labour-led government with a nation that eagerly awaits, with a peaceful mind, more prosperity during the next 12 months.
With economic growth moving from strength to strength and unemployment at the lowest level ever, this government can lead the nation in looking beyond to secure a healthy inheritance for future generations. Tomorrow’s budget speech will clearly indicate how this can be achieved through hard work and diligent planning – a far cry from the irresponsible and chronic ‘spend today and let our children pay tomorrow’ mentality of previous administrations until 2013.
This week the National Statistics Office published very encouraging figures for Gozo, indicating growth in most sectors in recent months. The number of residents in full-time employment in 2016 was 12,431, an increase of 5.7 per cent compared to 2015. More interesting is the fact that the private sector accounted for 56.7 per cent of the total.
Full-time employment in Gozo amounted to 9,382, an increase of 4.3 per cent compared to 2015, and 61.1 per cent of this was within the wholesale and hospitality services. Accommodation and food services accounted for 38 per cent of part-time employment. These statistics further prove the importance of tourism to Gozitan life and adds further responsibility to government and stake-
The social sector
My past experience in the active ageing sector will always be part of my new role as Minister for Gozo. We marked the first days of October – internationally dedicated to the elderly – with the opening of a new day care centre for the elderly in Qala, made possible through an agreement with the Qala local council.
This is the fourth of its kind in Gozo, joining those at Xewkija, Taċ-Ċawla in Victoria and Sannat, with another planned for Żebbuġ and more being planned for the future. There has been a good response for these services from Gozo’s elderly residents, particularly in those that provide ICT and other training courses. It is important that elderly people feel part of the community and remain active in their daily lives.
The government will continue to give priority to this area, not least in Gozo where a new home for the elderly is fast taking shape in Għajnsielem. An ambitious election pledge is to bring the total number of long-term care beds available in Gozo to 500.